ADHD numbers are rising, and scientists are trying to understand why
THE NUMBER of children diagnosed with attentiondeficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has reached more than 10 per cent, a significant increase during the past 20 years, according to a new study. But the researchers say they found no evidence confirming frequent complaints that the condition is overdiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Said Wei Bao, the study’s lead author: “I don’t think overdiagnosis is the main issue.”
Nonetheless, those doubts persist. Stephen Hinshaw, who co-authored a 2014 book called “The ADHD Explosion: Myths, Medication, Money, and Today’s Push for Performance,” compared ADHD to depression. He said in an interview that neither condition has unequivocal biological markers, which makes it hard to determine whether a person has the condition. Symptoms of ADHD can include inattention, fidgety behaviour and impulsivity.
“It’s probably not a true epidemic of ADHD,” said Hinshaw, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley and a professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco. “It might be an epidemic of diagnosing it.” In interpreting their re- sults, the study’s authors tied the higher numbers to better understanding of the condition by doctors and the public, new standards for diagnosis and an increase in access to health insurance through the ACA.
The study, published in JAMA Network, used data from the National Health Interview Survey, an annual federal survey of about 35,000 households. It found a steady increase in diagnoses, from about six per cent of children between 1997 and 1998 to more than 10 per cent between 2015 and 2016. The study also suggests that fewer stigmas about mental-health care in minority communities may lead to more people receiving an ADHD diagnosis. Over the past several decades, Hinshaw said, there has been an expanded view of who can develop ADHD. – Washington Post.